VA Health Facilities Alert

What you need to know about limited access to Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and SCI/D centers during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is taking action as the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) continues to have a major effect on life across the country.

The VA issued a press release on March 10 announcing new safeguards aimed at limiting COVID-19 exposure risk for spinal-cord injury and disease (SCI/D) patients and nursing home residents. As of March 10, the VA says it’s taking the following actions at all 24 of its SCI/D centers across the country until further notice.

  • All VA SCI/Ds will adopt a “no visitor” stance, meaning no outside visitors will be permitted to see inpatients.
  • The only exceptions will be in compassionate cases, when veterans are in their last stages of life.
  • In those cases, visitors will be limited to a specific veteran’s room only.
  • All VA SCI/Ds will limit inpatient admissions to addressing acute clinical needs.
  • This means all VA SCI/Ds will avoid inpatient admissions for routine matters, including annual exams and respite, which will now be done on an outpatient basis.
  • VA SCI/D staff will be actively screened daily and dedicated to working at SCI/D centers.

Meanwhile, the VA is taking similar action at its 134 nursing homes. The VA says that until further notice, it’s taking the following actions:

  • All VA nursing homes will adopt a “no visitor” stance, meaning no outside visitors will be permitted to see residents.
  • The only exceptions will be in compassionate cases, when veterans are in their last stages of life on hospice units.
  • In those cases, visitors will be limited to a specific veteran’s room only.
  • All VA nursing homes will suspend new admissions.
  • VA nursing homes will continue to welcome resident transfers from VA facilities once medical personnel have determined patients are not at risk for infection from COVID-19 or transmitting COVID-19.
  • Nursing home staff will be actively screened daily and dedicated to working at Community Living Centers.

“While the COVID-19 risk to average Americans remains low, these commonsense measures will help protect some of our most vulnerable patients,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie says in the press release. “VA will make every effort to minimize the impact of these policies on veterans while putting patient safety first.”

For more information about coronavirus (COVID-19), contact your local VA SCI/D center or visit the CDC’s website on COVID-19.

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